It’s Always Something

28 04 2009

baldtire

If you’re like most people, the only thing you know about tires is that they are the black rubber things on the wheels of your car. You might have some vague notion about snow tires, and if you’re lucky, some clue on how to change one. (I do not…that’s what the auto club is for…I tried once, and my first car ended up on the back of a flat bed being hauled down to the dealership.)

I was once like most people, but unfortunately I now know a little more than I ever cared to know about tires. There are reasons for this. My very first car, a hand me down from my parents, came to me with mileage in the low six digits, a whole host of dings and dents, a tape player that didn’t work, and a cigarette burn or four. (It just dawned on me that my stepmother, that cars FIRST owner, was MY AGE when she got that car. And I got it just a few years later. Freak out moment going on. Breathe deep. In through the nose….out through the mouth.) Any-ole-how, that first car ate tires like Elvis ate a pork chop sandwich. I had it aligned. I always had the service done. But it was wrecked a time or six, and I think it was just never quite right after the first two or three.  At it’s worst, I literally had to get new tires every other oil change. Lucky for me, it took the most common tire size known to man, and a new pair of fronts could be had for under $100 bucks–installed.

After that car went on to the great dealership in the sky, I had two more cars and neither of them ever needed a tire replaced. Then came the first car I bought as a young professional. I bought it because it was cheap, nice looking, and a friend of mine had a great experience with the same model. Had I known anything about tires, I might have recognized that the car’s snazzy 16″ wheels were wearing Z-rated “performance” tires. The “Z” standing for “zillion” which is how many dollars you will spend keeping tires on such an automobile. Imagine my shock when my first set wore out when the car wasn’t even a year old. And in the 60-some thousand miles I put on that car, I had to get FOUR SETS of tires. At a minimum of $400 a change. And they always wore out at the worst possible financial time.  When I traded up to my next car, I budgeted that even though the payment was higher, my monthly outlay would decrease by the shear fact that I wouldn’t have to get new tires every year. And I was right. The tires had over 50,000 miles on them when I replaced the set, not because they were worn, but because of a flat.

The next car was a convertible. Not only did it take the dreaded “Z” tires, but the front tires were a different size than the rears, meaning they couldn’t be rotated. I got rid of that car before it ever needed a tire change, but I understand it would eat a set in 12,000 miles and leave you with a $700 bill for replacement. That dreaded expense was part of the reason I swapped the convertible for my current car, which rode on “normal” looking Bridgestones–similar to the ones I’d gotten over 50,000 miles out of on a previous auto.

Last week, I turned into a parking space, got out, and noticed that my front tires were BALD. Down to the tread-wear bar. “That can’t be!” I told myself. Not only were they “normal” tires, they had spent their lives inflated with nitrogen, been rotated three times, and never driven aggressively. I called the dealership.

I don’t think they have a warranty.” the guy told me, “‘Sides, we aren’t a Bridgestone dealer, you’ll have to take it down to one.” (Howthey were not a dealer when I purchased a single replacement from them is lost on me.) I did some internet research. According to Bridgestone’s site, such a tire should carry a 50,000 mile tread-life warranty. I hustled down to the local tire shop. They agreed the tires were shot, called up Bridgestone to open a claim, and were told the warranty didn’t apply when they were installed as original equipment. What???

Sure enough, in the fine print of my warranty materials, the treadlife warranty only applies if the tires were installed by a one armed, one  horned, flying purple tire eater. (That may as well have been the case). So the tire shop fella shows me two options for replacement–one just south of $500 and one just north. I didn’t have time to get them changed then, but brought the car back the next day. A second guy pulls up my information.

“I don’t know why he offered you these tires, they aren’t gonna work on your car.”

Fan-friggin-tastic! What will then? The answer of course, was more expensive. And as usual, such an expense occurred at a completely inopportune time. But an hour later,  I rolled off with safe, new tires that carry an 80,000 mile warranty, an empty bank account, and some seething words for all parties involved.

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12 responses

28 04 2009
The Predo

Well at least you are supporting business in a bad economy!

(doesn’t make you feel any better?)

Well at least you are driving safer, and can live longer to post more for the rest of us!

(How is that?)

28 04 2009
Jason

I know! I always feel so ripped off when I buy tires. Like someone is making a huge profit.

I don’t change tires either. That’s why I have AAA as well, among other reasons.

The good news is (usually) once it looks like it’s time to get new tires, it also looks like it’s time to get a new car.

You and I are cut from the same cloth.

28 04 2009
cuteasasa

Okay. So tires are the black rubber things and wheels are what the black rubber things are attached to. Got it. (And, sadly, kind of serious about the education.) And just last week a friend traded in his 2 year old Honda. He loved the car but he’d put a lot of miles on it, needed new tires AND full brakes. With the deals they are giving on the new Accords w/ low interest financing, it made no real sense to fix the 2 year old one. So if there are enough bald tires and squealing brakes nationally, we might just pull out of this recession. –and now, to all a good night. : )

28 04 2009
The Vinyl Villager

Predo–that makes me feel a wee bit better about spending almost $600 from my savings.

Jason–ya know, it crossed my mind. I thought “I wonder how much LESS trade-in value I would get with these bald ass tires?”

Asa–dammit now I think I should have just traded it.

28 04 2009
The Incredible Woody

Original equipment isn’t under the warranty? What’s up with that? I think you need to do some letter writing. When stupid things like that happen to me, I write letters.

I send them to the CEO, President, and Board of Directors of the company. I know those big dogs don’t see my letters but when letters arrive at corporate headquarters, things happen. I guess it embarrasses corporate that someone is pissed enough to write to them so they get right on the problem.

I usually start off by telling them how wonderful I think they are and how I have been a faithful customer for years and years until (insert problem here) happened. Now I am very disappointed and it will take (make demand here) to regain my loyalty. Make them think you are writing because you love their company, yadda, yadda… And I thank them for their prompt attention to this matter.

I have gotten all kinds of free stuff by doing that:) Maybe not free tires but maybe some satisfaction.

You can find the true corporate address for the big dogs on their SEC filings which are available online.

28 04 2009
The Vinyl Villager

Woody–I beat ya too it. I’ve written Bridgestone and Honda to voice my complaint. Hopefully I’ll hear something.

28 04 2009
dawtch

The tires on my car (you know, the impeccably reliable piece of machinery I paid $13,998 too much for..?) came with 90,000 mile tires. Awesome, right..? Except for the fact that according to the dealership, 1 month after purchase (and 2 months after the tires were installed, according to the original receipt) were “no good” and the cause of the clunk/bump when turning hard left, and the vibration (ok, the bounce-the-whole-car-and-try-to-jerk-the-wheel-outta-your-hand-something) that starts at about 60 and goes on until you hit about 75. Not that I’ve ever gotten it to quit. Because you know I ALWAYS drive the speed limit…at that time I had no money to replace them, and the tread was beautiful, so I didn’t worry too much, beyond mentioning it each time I took it to the dealer…only once or 12 times…finally, after they replaced the front struts, which involved (in this particular car), much like changing a HEADLIGHT, removal of the front end. Completely. Including tires. Two months later, the tread on the outside is gone. Guess what they say is causing my issues..? You guessed it! The $1,000 tires. This time I went to the tire place they came from (now THEY are awesome!) Not the tires, the front end…but the only way the dealer waoul admit it would’ve been court – c’mon, they blamed the tires, LITERALLY, TWELVE TIMES!!!!
*sigh*
Good luck on the complaints, lemme know how that works out for you…
*grin*
bb
dawtch

28 04 2009
Alan

What is it with you and cars??? LOL

29 04 2009
The Vinyl Villager

Dawtch—Im glad its not just me…

Alan–I dont know man…I take really good care of my cars, I drive sensibly, but bad luck just seems to follow me.

29 04 2009
Noe Noe Girl

Why are cars such a pain in the ass?

29 04 2009
Big Hair Envy

I have a good (?) tire story. I had NEVER had a tire problem….no baldness, no flats, no nothing. The day my FIL died, I was heading down a dark country road to pick up my daughter from a friend’s house. You guessed it…a flat. The irony? My FIL owned a towing business. I could just hear him laughing….!

30 04 2009
Josh

At least you have a newer car. Mine’s a ’94 model 😀

We just had to replace the starter in it. It didn’t start a few times, and my dad, being the genius at automotive work he is, thought it may be the oil. So I spent $30 on an oil change. Then he said it may be the air filter. I spent almost as much on that. Then he deduced that it may be the starter. Got the starter replaced. We put the starter in, and the battery was drained. We let it charge for a long time. It started. The next day he checks on it, it doesn’t start again. We replace the battery and now it works fine.

…And the damn thing is only worth like 300 bucks. LOL.

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